We are no longer beekeepers.
They were looking weak the last time I checked on them and, today, the hive is empty.
I’m sorry this is so, but native pollinators are having a fine time in our garden so we will be counting on them and paying for honey.
I’m a little surprised. When I tried peeking in to the hive yesterday, bees were sitting on the box and I didn’t see a lot of movement toward the front of the hive. It appears that they got moving when I finally calmed down and left them alone. This morning when I went out to remove the box, they were ALL clustered up at the front and about a quarter of the quart of sugar syrup was gone.
It’s difficult to take a picture through the plexiglass, but you can kind of tell.
It looks like about 20 didn’t make it and considering how they are put in the box, that’s pretty impressive.
Actual package creation starts at 3 minutes.
Monica and Todd of The Carolina Bee Company drove for nearly 24 hours yesterday to bring packaged of bees from Georgia to North Carolina. One of those boxes was for me.
AND it’s raining today, which isn’t prime bee-handling weather. But, you have to do what you can when you can.
So, I used Monica’s no-shake package installation method, waited for a break in the action and went for it. The queen’s carriage is dangling between 2 bars that are simply pinching the little strap in place and the box is in the back where bars 11-23 will go when I take it out tomorrow. The quart sized sugar syrup bottle is between the box and the queen. The queen is between the bottle and the entrance.
They are so busy that I can’t put the flap down to take a picture, but I think they like it here.
I ordered another package of bees from Carolina Bees who are on our Natural Beekeepers list.
Annalys suggest that the the colonies may have absconded in the fall. To abscond is to leave with no forwarding address. That description matches what I have seen in the hives. There was a sudden drop in population like a swarm had happened. They left enough workers to tend to the brood they left behind and they left food for them. There was capped and uncapped honey and lots of uncapped pollen.
Yesterday, I extracted the honey that remained after all the abandoned bees died. We have a little more than 2 quarts.
I have 3 empty combs in one hive, kind of hoping it will encourage a swarm to wander in and call it home. The other hive is clean and will receive the new package on April 29.
It was finally dry enough and warm enough at the same time to have a look in the hives today. There is a little honey, some pollen and some half finished (uncapped) honey in both hives. Dead bees in the bottoms. Some bees on the combs in Rosamund appear to be dead.
If the single cluster I saw had a queen in it and they are alive, she has less than 50 attendants.
I saw no evidence of disease.
The bees may be OK. I may have been seeing the change from summer bees to winter bees for the first time and panicked.
They aren’t taking the syrup I’ve been putting out very quickly. However, there were bees visible in Rosamund and syrup visible in the comb in Lucretia, today.
We’ll know the truth when Spring actually springs.
Looks like the bees are dead.
We fed them during the worst of the summer dearth and quit when they had mostly quit taking it. After about 3 weeks we started feeding again as we saw goldenrod drying up. But, apparently, it was too late.
There was a time when there were so many bees we were afraid of a late summer swarm. Now there are practically none. There is nectar or sugar syrup visible in cells and capped pollen. But, almost no bees and the sugar syrup hasn’t gone down any for about 3 days.
Did we not feed enough?
Were they poisoned by the corn growing down the road?
Do we try again next year or sell our gear thinking this area is bad for honey bees?